– Today’s blog is from the book Pause: The Secret to a Better Life, One Word at a Time. Pick up your copy on Amazon or RIGHT HERE.
Our prayers are often not answered the way we hoped. That doesn’t mean they aren’t answered. It might mean they are answered better than we can ask or imagine, better than we expected. It might mean they are answered in ways our limited vision can’t see. It might mean they couldn’t be answered the way we hoped because that would have prohibited other prayers from being answered. Or, maybe because the Listener of Our Prayers loves us too much to answer all our prayers the way we think He should.
Knowing that, I have this suggestion for myself. Keep dreaming big and praying big. What if we chose to pray, to ask, to hope, to dream—uninfluenced by the times dreams haven’t come true? What if it’s true that God, in His sovereign knowledge and power and perspective, really does choose to sometimes wait until we ask?
I’m a dreamer. A big picture dreamer. However, I continually find myself replacing my dreams with “what ifs.” I believe there’s a huge difference in the two. My dreams are things I cannot do on my own. There would have to be a marvelous move of the Father before they happen…I don’t mean that sarcastically either! My “what ifs” are usually small plans that I can accomplish by rearranging my schedule or attitude.
I know God has a plan for me to take part of in the His kingdom. It’s funny how spiritual things overlap with not-so-spiritual things in life. I think He allowed them to on purpose. Another golf analogy if I may. Whenever something is going well, something eventually has to go wrong. That’s usually my mind set when I am on the golf course. I wish I had the tenacity like T.W. Like when he’s winning by 5 and it’s not enough. He strives for it to be by 8, 12 or 15 shots as he did in the 2000 U.S. Open. No, that’s not me. This mindset overlaps in my spiritual life. When I seem to be doing God’s will or I feel like I am on “good terms” with Him I begin to fixate on what I think is the inevitable-failure. I let this fear paralyze me. This fear can become so strong I allow it to stop myself from pushing to know God more or continue seeking out His will. I have learned recently that the real failure is fearing something that has not yet happened. You can’t live life that way. If you do… you have already lost.
Give God your best, and He will take care of the rest.
I believe that dreams will come to if we just pray and dream for them but sometimes the dreams come true in a different way then what we wanted and that is a good thing. It might have been a way of God tell us that this is what I want you to be doing and it is better for you this way then the way we wanted it to be.
Dreaming and then praying for those dreams is something that i struggle with. With the next stage of life for me right around the corner, i grow in doubt of what i want to do next. I ask God regularly in my thoughts to show me what i need to do. But am i earnestly seeking Him in prayer and asking Him then? no. If I serve a BIG God, my big dreams, aspirations, and questions should be nothing to Him.
This just makes me think of all the things I could have asked for, but didn’t. How much could I be missing out on just because I have not thought to ask for it. My hope is that the things I dream for and want, will be the things he wants to give me.
This reminds me of a book I read recently. In the Circle Maker, Mark Batterson says that if we don’t pray big bold prayers, we are offending God. If our prayers are not bigger than we are, then they don’t require supernatural assistance, meaning we can do it on our own. Where God guides, he also provides. It may not be how or when we would have liked, but us praying implies tha we can’t do it on our own to begin with; therefore, it can’t be our way.
I am dreamer through and through, yet I struggle with the question, “Am I enough? Can you really do this, God? What if it doesn’t work out?” But I am learning, that’s okay. It’s okay to wrestle with the plans God has, but my response to the wrestling is the important part. If I let worry, doubt, and people’s approval overtake me, then I will never accomplish anything. If I choose to turn my questions into opportunities for Jesus to work and place my complete dependence in Him, then why should I doubt? I am confident that His plan is greater, even when I am frustrated or do not understand. I will choose to trust His promises.
Praying big often seems to be an enormous hope. We want so much, but we’re afraid to ask for anything, assuming it’s much too foolish for God to consider. Maybe we don’t have enough faith to ask, maybe we’ve seen too many prayers go unanswered, or maybe we think that we’ll be dictating God. Whatever our reasons, we decide not to ask. Our dreaming gets smaller and soon we don’t talk. Maybe God wants us to tell Him our dreams, not so He can leave them unanswered, but so He can make our big dreams bigger.
Bill Johnson said in a sermon, “If your prayer doesn’t move you, it won’t move Him.” Scripturally, “Deep calls to deep” (Psalm 42:7). I agree that our prayers should be big and should sometimes seem ridiculous, but ask them in faith and see how God moves.
Dreaming is redeeming. Wintley Phipps once said,”It is in the quiet crucible of your personal private sufferings that your noblest dreams are born and God’s greatest gifts are given in compensation for what you’ve been through.” By dreaming in the midst of pain we are praying and hoping something beautiful can be redeemed from the agony and are given hope in light of that redemption.
We must dream and not just follow other people. We must be able to create something new and not just do the same old thing. It’s okay to dream things that have never been done. We are all different and have different callings. We can’t be afraid to pursue that and think in irregular ways. John 14 talks about greater works, so there is no limit and things can happen that have never happen before.
Sometimes the unexpected answers from God are better than the original requests. When I think about the times in my life when I’ve prayed and asked for one thing and God gives me another, the alternative is usually better than the original- and more of a blessing on my life.